With an anxiety disorder the size of Texas, I know better than to go near WebMD, PetMD or any other self-diagnosis website. I blame modern technology for my insatiable need for immediate answers to mysterious ailments like inexplicable hiccupping which, according to a Yahoo chat group, is symptomatic of AIDS! And let’s not forget about the time when I swore I had impetigo after giving myself a giant blister from dancing in stacked heels.
As you can see, I’m the poster child for just saying NO to WebMD. Seriously, folks, we should leave this stuff to the professionals in white coats…but sometimes it’s too hard to resist. This is especially true for Christine Bacon, a 40-something school teacher who is obsessed with deadly diseases. No sneeze, bump, itch or cough goes undetected – and her doctors are making a pretty penny off of her weekly visits. Geez – this poor woman must have to take out a second mortgage just to afford all those co-pays!
Her anxiety goes into overdrive when her husband insists on “shaking things up” by having a threesome with his boobaliscious message therapist. Shortly after the ill-fated tryst, her marriage to Richard (preferably known as Dick) quickly unravels into shreds. Let me tell ya, this guy pissed me off from page one – and I was so ready for him to run off with his new bimbo. He’s the ultimate midlife crisis cliché: divorce the faithful wife, kick her while she’s down, ignore the kids, and sport a boy-band hairstyle. He’s pretty much a douchebag with a capital D, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the book so I could revel in Christine’s sweet revenge.
As Christine embarks on the stages of grief, she convinces herself that every stress-related ailment is symptomatic of a fatal disease. From MS, to ear cancer to HIV, she’s certain she will inevitably die a slow, painful death.
But it’s not all gloom and doom for our hapless hypochondriac. She’s got a fabulous circle of friends to turn to when she needs to be talked off the ledge. I absolutely adored her schoolteacher friends who stayed by her side during her darkest days. They never gave up on coaching her through her daily “I’m going to die!” episodes, which is a real testament of friendship. Just ask my loyal bestie, who never fails to entertain my absurd fears of contracting rare fatal diseases. I typically reward her good deeds with some moonshine shots, but really this girl deserves a badge of honor! Christine also has the perfect gay boyfriend, who just so happens to be a doctor. He’s amused by her endearingly neurotic fascination with deadly illnesses, and their conversations are quite hilarious.
Aside from the loveable protagonist, the book’s biggest strong suit is the humor. This author clearly has a quirky personality – and it shows in the whip-smart dialogue and Christine’s zany antics. There were some moments that had me shaking with laughter, especially when Christine flipped out on a student for not complimenting her post-divorce haircut. It’s one of the many scenes that only a girl would truly understand and appreciate. Oh and I also really loved the part when she threw herself a pity party by dramatically taking out the trash (a mandatory husband chore) in front of her sympathetic neighbors.
Overall, this little indie book is quite a gem. Although Christine’s neurosis is a tad extreme, many of the emotions she deals with will resonate with women readers. Whether you’re divorced, single or happily married – this book will make you laugh, cry and hug your best friend. Tracy does a fine job balancing heavy issues with humor without undermining Christine’s underlying psychological problems. If you enjoy stories about personal transformation, hope and second chances – download this book immediately!
Want to know more about this talented new author? Check out her blog, Tales from an Empty Nest.